Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S. - 220 North Washington Ave., Cookeville, TN 38501 (931)526-2613

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By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
December 05, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   tmd   tmj  
HowtoStopthePainofTMD

The term TMD means “Temporomandibular Disorder.” But if you suffer from this disorder, it means pain. The pain can be mild or severe, acute or chronic, and it can appear to be centered in different locations, making it difficult to diagnose.

People who clench or grind their teeth because of stress often experience the pain of TMD. They might not even know they are engaging in these habits, because they do them subconsciously, for example when driving in traffic or engaging in vigorous exercise. Another cause of TMD might be an injury such as a blow to the jaw.

You can feel your temporomandibular joints working if you place your fingers in front of your ears and move your lower jaw up and down. On each side the joint is composed of an almond shaped structure at the end of the lower jaw, called the condyle, which fits neatly into a depression in the temporal bone (the bone on the side of your skull near your ear). A small disc between the two bones allows the lower jaw to move forward and sideways. The joints are stabilized by ligaments and moved by muscles.

TMD pain is the result of a process that begins when a stimulus such as psychological stress or an injury to the joint causes spasms (involuntary muscle contractions) in the muscles that move the joint. Blood vessels in the muscle begin to accumulate waste products, causing chemical changes and lactic acid buildup in the muscle. Nerves in the muscle then signal the brain to stop the movement of the jaw by registering pain.

TMD pain can appear to originate from various locations in your jaw, head, or neck. This is why it's important to make an appointment with our office for a professional assessment and diagnosis.

Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms of pain and discomfort and to prevent them from recurring in the future. Treatment can include heat, mild painkillers, muscle relaxants, soft diet, and simple jaw exercises, as well as education regarding the causes of TMD. To prevent further pain you may be provided with a “bite guard,” or referred to relaxation training with a licensed therapist. A bite guard is designed to prevent the lower teeth from biting hard into the upper teeth. It is commonly worn at night, but can also be worn during the day if clenching and grinding are apparent.

If these simpler treatments do not solve the problem, we may recommend more complex procedures such as bite adjustment or, as a last resort, surgical treatment may be needed.

Contact us today to discuss your questions about TMD. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “TMD: Understanding the Great Imposter.”

By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
November 27, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
ASmileMakeoverCanHelpBoostSelf-Confidence

Projecting a healthy, radiant smile can help boost self-confidence and lead to increased comfort and success in both personal and career-oriented situations. Yet, many people are unhappy with their less-than-pearly whites, causing them to avoid social interaction and even lose out on opportunities because they are too self-conscious.

Your dissatisfaction with the appearance of your teeth may also be causing you to stifle one of nature's most endearing and intrinsic impulses, simply smiling!

For example, do you:

  • Avoid posing for pictures that require a smile?
  • Cover your mouth when speaking or laughing in public?
  • Avoid dating because you feel unattractive?
  • Feel that people think less of you because your smile is flawed?
  • Think your smile makes you look older than you are?

If you've answered yes to any of these questions, you are certainly not alone. A poll conducted by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry found that, while a whopping 99.7% of respondents said they considered a good smile to be a highly important social asset, only 50% of those same respondents indicated that they were satisfied with their own smile. In addition, the Academy reported that people between the ages of 31 and 50 are most unhappy with their smile, are most concerned with making a good first impression through a strong smile, and most frequently seek out information on cosmetic dentistry.

The good news is that advances in cosmetic enhancement and restorative dentistry, including treatments like teeth whitening and the application of porcelain veneers to correct tooth crowding, make it possible for anyone to enhance or improve their smile and boost their self-image. And a complete “Smile Makeover” has been shown to positively impact the perception that others have with respect to attractiveness, popularity, and even wealth — all based on the quality of a person's smile.

Our office can work with you to determine just what it will take to improve your smile and self confidence from as little as a minor enhancement to a complete smile makeover — anything that would best match your idea of the perfect smile. To get started, give us a call.

To read about others who have regained their confidence after brightening and whitening their smiles through cosmetic dentistry, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Impact of a Smile Makeover.”

By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
November 19, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum recession  
WhatIsGumRecessionandHowIsItTreated

Gum recession is a common problem affecting millions of Americans to some degree. If you have it, you will notice that the pink gum tissue surrounding one or more of your teeth has shrunk or receded and left the tooth-root surfaces exposed. How does this happen? And does it require treatment? The answers to both of these questions will vary from person to person. The good news is that treatment is available for those who need it.

The way you care for your teeth can be a major factor in gum recession. If you do not effectively remove plaque (bacterial biofilm) from your teeth daily, you may develop gum inflammation, gum disease and/or recession. Conversely, if you brush or floss too hard or for too long, you can also damage your gums. Please remember that it doesn't take a lot of pressure to remove biofilm; you just need to make sure you get to each tooth, right down to the gum line.

Other causes of gum recession include: mal-positioned and/or prominent teeth that are not fully encased in supporting bone; muscle attachments (frenums) pulling at the gum line; habits such as holding foreign objects (nails, pins) between the teeth that press on the gum tissues; and badly fitting oral appliances such as dentures, braces – even tongue bolts and lip piercings.

Besides not looking too great, gum recession can lead to anything from minor tooth sensitivity to tooth loss in the most severe cases. If you are experiencing any discomfort from a loss of gum (also called “gingival”) tissue, we'd certainly like to know about it. We would be happy to examine your condition and make recommendations.

There are surgical procedures that are very effective in treating these problems. Procedures such as gingival grafting or periodontal plastic surgery (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth), often involve taking a small piece of healthy gingival tissue from the roof of your mouth and grafting it to the area where it is needed. Ultrafine sutures hold the graft in place until it “takes.” Laboratory-processed donor tissue can also be used. In either case, the procedure has a terrific success rate.

If you have any questions about gum recession, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. To learn more about the topic of oral appliance therapy, please see the Dear Doctor magazine article “Periodontal Plastic Surgery.”

By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
November 08, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  
WhenTeethareLostBoneisLost

Most people think of bone as rock-solid, but it's actually a living tissue that's constantly changing. This has significant implications for your oral health, general health, and appearance — if you are one of the 70% of Americans missing at least one tooth.

Throughout the day, your top and bottom teeth make hundreds of fleeting contacts with each other. These small stresses are transmitted though the periodontal ligament (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth) that supports each tooth in its socket like a hammock. Think of it as a gentle push on the hammock, which causes the tooth to gently bump the underlying bone. The bone then builds up in the spot that's receiving stress to counteract it. This constant remodeling of bone is what allows bone to stay healthy and strong.

When a tooth is lost, the bone does not receive that gentle stress. It reacts by literally melting away. Sometimes this happens fairly quickly — in a matter of months. After the tooth-supporting bone is lost, the jawbone itself begins the same process of deterioration. This could eventually change the shape of the face, as the distance from nose to chin can decrease — even if only a few back teeth are missing. The results aren't pretty. But the good news is, there's a way to prevent all this.

Dental implants, which function as substitute tooth roots, actually save underlying bone when teeth are lost. They do this because they are made of titanium, which fuses to the bone in which it's set, stabilizing it. The implant is topped by a realistic-looking crown, which replaces the part of the missing tooth that was visible in the mouth. Together, they look and function just as your natural tooth did.

If you are missing a lot of teeth, implants can also be used to anchor bridges or even removable dentures while providing that same bone-saving benefit. And when you consider that they are so durable they should never need replacement, implants are a great investment.

If you have any questions about dental implants, please contact us, or schedule an appointment for an implant consultation.

You can read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”

By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
October 31, 2012
Category: Oral Health
SomeFactsAboutThumbSucking

It may alarm some people, but finger or thumb sucking is a completely normal activity for babies and young children. In fact, sonograms often reveal babies sucking a finger or thumb while still in the womb! However, if children are allowed to suck fingers, thumbs or pacifiers indefinitely, it can become problematic, with serious consequences particularly as they get older.

The list below contains important facts about thumb sucking and pacifiers that all parents of young infants should know.

  • The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents and caregivers encourage children to stop thumb sucking by age 3.
  • Recent studies have shown that pacifier use after the age of two may cause long-term changes in the mouth; thus these researchers recommend stopping pacifier use by 18 months.
  • If thumb and finger sucking habits do not stop soon enough, the upper front teeth may tip toward the lip or not come into the correct position in the mouth.
  • Most children who suck their thumbs or fingers tend to stop between the ages of 2 and 4.
  • For obvious reasons, a pacifier habit is often easier to break than a finger or thumb-sucking habit.
  • One tip for encouraging older children to stop this habit gradually is to use behavior modification with appropriate rewards given at pre-determined intervals to refrain from using a pacifier, or sucking fingers or a thumb.

Be sure to inform us if any of your children suck their fingers, thumb or a pacifier so that we can begin monitoring their development. Our general recommendation is that you schedule an appointment around your child's first birthday.





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